Is technology going to drive money to a utopia or a dystopia? While technology is first about tools and not about how society chooses to utilize them it can create a direction of travel and nudge society along, however. Given the current direction —broadly towards decentralization, distribution and an overall lessening of state power—Dave Birch is inspired by social anthropology and the study of “paleofutures” to make an informed and surprising prediction.
Looking at Peter Strickland’s latest film, The Duke of Burgundy, Darius Lerup explore the vicissitudes of masochism, boredom and the ways in which they are brought together at the intersection between traditional narrative film and the avant-garde.
How to democratize development? Annabelle Wittels sets out on a journey to find some ideas in between power play, empathy, human failure, corruption and grand utopia. She argues there are three challenges in between the status quo and a more democratic development: information is costly and hard to come by, open dialogue and democratic decision-making process are complicated to establish and the accountability of donors, governments and international actors is opaque. A daydream about a new kind of bureaucracy and more direct democracy could be a start for tackling these issues.
A perplexing party involving fashion models and Bangladeshi labour activists inspires Theo Di Castri and the King’s Review to explore the meaning of solidarity in the twenty first century.
Two and a half thousand years ago, Athens was in crisis. It was struck by a crisis of private debt. Not unlike today, the Athenians were looking for a saviour and found Solon. Daniel Unruh traces – partly through original translation of Solon’s poetry – how he abolished debt-slaves, relieved all existing debts and established a system of universal vote. Who is going to be today’s boundary stone between the rich and the poor, the honest and neutral broker who can bring the people together?
Rowan Williams delivered this text as a Sermon Before the University King’s College Chapel, Cambridge on Sunday 17th March 2015. It was the fourth in a series commissioned, as part of King’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the completion of the stonework of the Chapel, to examine ‘Education’, ‘Religion’, ‘Learning ‘ and ‘Research’ – the four purposes of the College as defined in the nineteenth century. The sermon explores what it is realistic to expect to from the activity of research, not only in terms of direct outcomes but also as an indirect consequence of exploring the unknown. The impact of questioning on the questioner is offered as a subject of practical, intellectual and spiritual importance.
The blockchain underlying Bitcoin is moving beyond money and into record keeping and law. This essay explores recent efforts to harness the ledger-like qualities of blockchains to create contracts. Along the way, it considers the forms and functions of other historical examples of ledgers, the dynamics of visibility and publicity, and shifts in the incentive structure of blockchain systems. Distributed, autonomously-executing contracts sound like science fiction. Their non-contractual basis in social relations, cultural assumptions, and human-computer labor, together with their particular system of incentives, may make of contract a kind of game with real-world consequences.
In the second of his two-part series, Paul Sagar suggests that to understand what Neo-liberalism is not, we would do well to look at the intellectual history of recent economic theory. Drawing on work by James Forder, he suggests that we presently labour under a collective misapprehension about the terms of modern political economy.
The term Neo-liberalism is a staple of contemporary political discourse. But what does it actually mean? In this two-part article Paul Sagar draws on recent work in political economy to suggest that we are astonishingly unclear about what this key term signifies. Engaging with recent work by Helen Thompson and Martin Wolf, he argues that it is in fact hard to pin down where neoliberalism or its alternatives stand between the market and politics.
An encounter: Steven J. Fowler is a British poet and artist working in the modernist and avant garde traditions. KR chats to him about the place and politics of his poetry.
Bitcoin represents a fascinating technological innovation which might have a number of potential applications. In contrast to the aspirations of some of its supporters, rivaling existing money is not among its likely uses. This results from an underappreciation in Bitcoin’s design of what are important features of money, argues Beat Weber, economist at the Austrian Central Bank.
A selection of poems on the struggle for autonomy in dietary choices and in old age, from writer and professor of philosophy Felicia Nimue Ackerman.
Today’s most known representatives of the sharing economy discussed in global media are online platforms built on top of venture capital backed, hierarchically structured organizations. Francesca Pick and Julia Dreher argue that there is a fundamental misunderstanding today in the discussion of the subject: the sharing economy is built on rhizomatic network structures holding the potential for deeper societal transformation.
Anita Datta thinks about the significance of leading and following in Ballroom and Latin dancing. How would a newly open way of dancing really look like? Drawing on her experiences at ‘Pink Jukebox’, an LGBT dance club in London, she explores the queer and feminist way of thinking about dancing as a start.
In an unflinching account, Raffaella Taylor-Seymour traces her mother’s life and death and the insight it has generated. She unpicks the expectations surrounding bereavement, both from ourselves and others, in the hope of breaking the silence that shrouds death.